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The Great Escape: Local girl aids in rescuing lost dog


Zeke’s an escape artist, having made getaways in two states. 

An 18-month-old micro-mini Goldendoodle, Zeke recently slipped out in St. Charles. But just a couple of days earlier, he had disappeared in Florida. One escape led to the other. 

Sydney Gutleber with Zeke (Source: Jason Gutleber)

Zeke’s owners, Pat and Tom Watson, had left him with a pet sitter in Florida with the intention of leaving him there while they attended their son’s wedding in St. Charles. But within the first hour, Zeke bolted out the door when it was opened to allow a carpet cleaner to come in. Fifteen neighbors and friends searched for Zeke around the area. However, Zeke was miles and miles away and had even crossed a highway, but luckily was not hit. He was finally located on a golf course. 

Because of this incident, Watson said, “We hurried up and threw our suitcases in the car and put the dog in his dog carrier, bought a ticket for him, and put him under our seat and took him to St. Charles to one of my best friends.”

While the Watsons attended their son’s wedding, Shirley Peschke, a resident of St. Charles, was tasked with the duty of dog sitting Zeke. While preparing to take him for a walk on July 7, Zeke ran out the door, unleashed. Similar to before, all of Peschke’s friends in her subdivision rallied around her to find Zeke. Being unsuccessful in catching him, Peschke said her neighbors turned to making lost dog posters. 

“I’ve been friends (with Zeke’s owners) for more than 40 years and I was doing them a favor. I’ve never been so sad in my life ever. This happened but there was nothing I could do about it. It was done,” Peschke said. 

Thirty-six hours after Zeke escaped, 12-year-old Sydney Gutleber, of Timberwood Trails, found him in brush near the side of the road.

Gutleber said she was in the car when she glanced outside of her window and saw a dog laying in the brush and realized that it was the dog from the lost dog posters she had noticed earlier.

“We stopped and I ran back down the sidewalk. It was a long time of just running around on the sidewalk trying to find where he was … I finally found him and I tried to get closer to him, but he wouldn’t really let me and he started to walk toward the top of the brush. Also, I noticed that he wasn’t using his back legs, so then I followed him up to the brush where he was lying down. He kind of looked at me so I turned him around and I picked him up and walked back out of the brush holding him,” Gutleber said. “(He) had a collar on, but he didn’t have a tag on, so we didn’t actually know that it was Zeke. But then we looked at him longer and he had a lighter brown patch on his chest like he had one on the poster, so we (realized) this was Zeke and took him home.”

Sydney Gutleber immediately after finding Zeke (Source: Jason Gutleber)

After bringing Zeke to her house, Gutleber’s dad called to let Watson know that they found a little dog that matched Zeke’s description.

“We were just getting hors d’oeuvres and drinks (at the wedding),  and I started jumping up and down. The priest and my husband all knew what must have happened because they looked at me,” Pat Watson said. “We didn’t know if somebody stole him, or if he was dead, so we just had to go on and celebrate the wedding because at that point, there was nothing more we could do … We have no hard feelings at all for the two people that lost (Zeke) because we know it was truly not intentional and they tried their very best.” 

Watson noted that when they picked Zeke up he was OK except for his leg. 

Zeke (Source: Pat Watson)

“(Zeke had) multiple fractures in one leg, so the (vet) said he probably was hit by a car,” Watson said.

Following the surgery, Gutleber said the vet was able to save Zeke’s leg, but he still has a bunch of pins in it. She also said she was really happy about saving Zeke because hardly anyone, nonetheless a 12-year-old, can say they found a lost dog.

“When I carried (Zeke) out of the brush, I couldn’t stop smiling because I found a lost dog. That’s pretty cool,” Gutleber said. “I really love dogs so I was really happy that I found a dog. I’ve always seen lost pet posters around, but I’ve never actually seen one of them.”

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